ICE Conference on Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation and the Region of South Italy

  • 30 January 2015

In January 29th 2015 was organized in Reggio Calabria a conference of ICE -Agency for promotion and internationalization of Italian businesses, entitled “Convergence Regions and the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation”.

The International Conference was organized in the context of the activities of the Export Plan for Convergence Regions and the Pilot Project “Towards the Mediterranean”, launched by the Ministry of Economic Development and implemented by the ICE in order to support and boost the internationalization enterprises of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily in the southern Mediterranean region.

At the centre of the debate of the conference – that wants to underline all the opportunities offered by the financing instruments for the euro-Mediterranean cooperation – there are the issues of growth, development and innovation.

In particular, the subjects of the conference were the following sectors: food safety, organic farming and fish resource, agro-industry, renewable energy, water and environmental resources, pharmaceuticals and logistics.

One aspect that emerged during the day is the necessity to reinstate the “Made in Italy” to its glorious past. It would be possible with the creation of a network of excellence in the South and strengthen the presence of Italian companies abroad. These networks will must use European financing instruments and both commercial and industrial cooperation between countries bordering on the Mediterranean shore.

The initiative, in fact, has been dedicated to companies, organizations, consortia and start-up of the four Convergence Regions and there were also contributions from representatives of the European Commission, as well as major international financial institutions (EIB, EBRD, World Bank).

The main objective of the Conference, in fact, was to illustrate to these four regions enterprises- Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily – the opportunities offered by the financing instruments for the euro-Mediterranean cooperation, available by the European Union and bodies International.

The opportunities in terms of exports and industrial collaboration in the areas covered by the Conference, in order to encourage diversified forms partnership commercial, industrial and technology with businesses in those countries, were also shown for each of the Focus Countries (Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey) to participating businesses.

In particular, the seminars have turned to companies operating in the agribusiness and food safety, including the sector of organic agriculture, renewable energy, management and treatment of water and environmental resources, fish stocks, the sector marble and stone, the pharmaceutical industry, logistics and transport. It is in these areas, in fact, that the preliminary studies made by the ICE showed the most potential and opportunities of internationalization for companies of Convergence Regions.

The General Director of ICE, Roberto Luongo, wanted to emphasize the fact that “in the countries of the southern Mediterranean there is a potential demand for knowledge and skills that businesses of the four regions of the Convergence can satisfy, develop, expand and consolidate through their trade relations and partnership, in a perspective of mutual interest with companies of others Mediterranean countries”.

Below here are some significant data: in the last ten years, the flow of foreign investments in the affected area has increased from just over than 14 billion dollars, from 21 billion to over $ 35 billion, despite the international economic crisis. However, the intra-Mediterranean, though growing, is still too small, with a market share of only about 7% of the total trade of the Mediterranean countries.

The South of Italy is central to the growth and development of the beautiful country. Yet, on the whole, businesses of southern contribute only 13% of national exports, much as it does the only Veneto.

What are that makes jam the machine? The system of small and medium enterprises, which record turnovers low and does not have the force and consistency necessary to compete in foreign markets, often remain confined to the territories, where they were born; still, systems management is not competitive enough nor in step with innovation; Finally, another reason is in the absence of political marketing.

The conference was made on the need to invest in knowledge. It will be necessary, in particular, to restore the centrality of youth and the role of universities, increasingly understood as “link” between education and the world of work.

The value of immigration: the 8.8% of the Italian wealth

  • 29 January 2015

The Foundation Leone Moressa – involved to the promotion of integration and cooperation- in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations, has conducted research entitled “The value of immigration.” The goal is to refute the prejudices on the immigrant population relating to economic and financial sphere, in order to counter the spread of certain stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes that result. There is no doubt, in fact, that at this time, from a strictly economic point of view, it would incorrect underestimate the contribution that migration generates in terms of wealth and development.

The research, in fact, underlines that, the idea often widespread, that defines immigration as a cost for the Italian economy, is simply false. On the contrary – as explained by Enrico Di Pasquale, one of the authors of the study – the positive difference between the expenditure and revenue amounted to 3.9 billion euro. The results of this study show, in fact, that foreigners who live and work in Italy produce 8.8% of the national wealth, which is, monetary, about 123 billion of euros.

Furthermore, foreign taxpayers are (since 2013) 3.5 million and they make total revenue of 6.7 billion of euro. The positive balance of 3.9 billion is due to the fact that, generally they are young and, in compare with all the Italian population, foreign workers have less impact on both the health care system, and on that pension.

“Immigration is a structural factor of Italian society, non-emergency, nor marginal. And especially it is not a problem, rather it is a business,” added Di Pasquale. In Italy there are over two million of workers and 400 thousand of this are foreigners (data of the first nine months of 2014), with an employment rate of 57.1 (compared to 41.8 of the Italians).

Foreigners account for 10.8% of total workers and – compared to the same period in 2010 to record an increase of 367 thousand units. However, the crisis has affected them too: the rate of employment of foreign workers has decreased by five percentage points.

You can also analyze the geographic distribution of immigrants. There is an evident link between the concentration of the foreign population and productivity. The first four areas for concentration of immigrants (Lombardy, Lazio, Emilia Romagna and Veneto) produce more than 60% of the total wealth.

The study also fails to refute another typical accusation moved to foreign workers: immigrants “steal” the work at the Italians in this time of crisis. The economic crisis in Europe, in fact, is not conducive to employment of foreigners in the crisis years (2007 – 2013), the unemployment rate of immigrants rose by nine points, compared to 5.6% of Italians.

According to data reported by the Foundation, nearly half (46.6%) of workers and foreign workers in Italy are employed in a given sector services- mainly fuelled by the spread of domestic and carers of foreign nationality. About 20% of the foreign workers, however, work in manufacturing. Following are the areas where they work more foreigners are as construction, catering, trade, and, finally, agriculture (which employs only 3% of foreigners).

Of the approximately 123 billion Euros with which foreigners contribute to the Italian gross domestic product, a large part is made by – as expected – the entrepreneurs, who make about 85 billion.

The research shows that in 2013 alone there were over 600 thousand foreign entrepreneurs, so, they are 3.5 million taxpayers.

The survey conducted by the Foundation Moressa shows that the Italian press handles a lot of the issue of immigration, but it does not always correctly. “Unfortunately the Italian media neglects even the economic contribution of immigration to our national system, focusing especially narration about current events and landings,” the researcher added Di Pasquale.

The researcher Chiara Tronchin illustrated that the work started to analyzed 846 articles of well-known Italian newspaper (the Republic, Corriere della Sera and Il Sole 24 Ore), and to a sample survey of 700 families.

The main result that emerges by this study is that immigration and refugees are a subject of which newspaper speak in general terms and approximate, rarely providing adequate contextualization: “Only 12% of the articles dealt deals with economics and immigration” highlights Chiara Tronchin.

The study “The value of immigration” is, in fact, enriched by 9 recommendations addressed to journalists and media professionals to facilitate the narrative of the phenomena of migration and promote an image closer to reality and free from stereotypes improper, and then to begin to tell the foreign businessmen, workers, taxpayers, economic actors and non-food more commonplace as “foreigners due to lower the salary of the Italian” or “foreigners steal work to Italians.”

Enrico Di Pasquale, explained the recommendations for proper communication, one of the search results:

  1. It cannot consider the phenomenon of migration as an emergency; it should instead be treated as a structural element of Italian society.
  2. It has to tell the complexity of the phenomena; Migration is not a simple event, but the additions of sociological, economic and political. Reduce the handling of immigration only news stories are an underestimation of the complexity of the phenomenon.
  3. It uses to speak always of immigrants and never listen to them. Instead, it would be necessary considered dutiful and helpful voice of directly affected. They are, in fact, who know better being in a foreign land.
  4. It’s not possible judge other cultures in refer to own culture. It would be better instead open to debate and evaluate the opportunities arising from a multi-ethnic society.
  5. Speaking of immigration should not be neglecting the foreign entrepreneurship, present in Italy with 500 thousand companies that record 85 billion euro per year of added value.
  6. The media are invited to assess the real situation of foreign occupation to avoid giving rise to common stereotypes.
  7. Speaking about immigration it should be better to not forget the contribution of this to the Italian tax system.
  8. Should be promoted and advertised the episodes positive integration and multiculturalism.
  9. Foreigners are treated as economic and social actors now rooted in our country.







Data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance: an image of the virtuous system Italy

  • 9 January 2015

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) Italian opened on its website a section entitled #prideandprejudice dedicated to positive indicators but little-known Italian public finances and the overall strength of the domestic financial system. The goal of this initiative is to counter the tendency to put in the foreground only negative indicators (such as the public debt or the low competitiveness), turning the spotlight on the positive indicators concerning Italy, “of which we never hear »: the primary surplus, the deficit-GDP, the dynamics of public debt, the risk of sustainability and contributions to the bailout funds.

All this to be able to represent Italy for what it is: one of the leading countries of the developed world, according to the manufacturing output in Europe, the third largest economy in the euro zone. A country that, in the last twenty years has been able to keep their accounts under control ranking among the best performing in Europe and the world.

The MEF document illustrates, with facts and figures, the changes taking place in the fiscal accounts. The aim of this is to combat prejudice and to represent adequately one of the countries that helped found the European Union.

According to spread by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, through the dissemination of economic data, of which we never hear, or not enough, you can “adequately represent a country that helped found the European Union”.

The first data offered by the MEF to combat prejudice concerns the time series of the primary surplus (the nominal budget balance net of interest payments on public debt) of the last twenty years, from 1995 to 2014. During this period, Italy recorded a budget surplus for 19 years out of 20, while the other major European economies have recorded a deficit at least 7 times. In 2013 the primary surplus as a percentage of GDP is the second highest, behind only Germany (0.16 percentage points) and equal to twice Austria, which ranks third in this ranking of countries virtuous

“Italy has recorded a deficit / GDP ratio below 3% in 2013, as in 2012” – these are the words contained in the document released by the MEF. “Therefore the European Commission sanctioned the closure of the infringement procedure for excessive deficit opened in the past. According to current projections, even in 2014 the Italian public finances are in compliance with this requirement, provided by the European treaties for countries that have joined the monetary union and then adopted the euro as their currency. In comparison with the Euro zone, it is clear that Italy is one of the few countries that respect this rule. It is also interesting to note that among the countries outside the euro, there are many who have a deficit / GDP ratio above this threshold. These include the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States. ”

Another indicator that was used in the document of the MEF is the percentage change in the ratio of government debt to GDP occurred between 2008 (the beginning of the crisis) and 2014, according to sources Ameco and the European Commission. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, the Italian public debt has grown at a slower rate (29.1%) than either the United States (44.3%) than to other EU countries. Specifically, the best result it does record Sweden (9.8%), followed by Belgium (14.8%) and Germany (14.8%). Before Italy there are Austria (26.9%) and the Netherlands (27.4%). Below Italy there are Denmark (32.1%) and France (40.8%). The figures rise considerably as to other European countries: Greece (60.5%), the UK (72.6%), Portugal (78.2%), Spain (149.0%) and Ireland (159.4%).

The dynamics of the debt in absolute terms is not necessarily indicative of debt sustainability: the ratio of debt to GDP is definitely a more reliable indicator in this sense. However, the dynamics of debt in Italy is conditioned by low growth and not by the relationship between spending and revenue, as demonstrated in the primary series already published. Moreover, in recent years the contributions to the funds “bailout” and the payment of arrears of public administrations have contributed significantly to the increase in debt in monetary terms.

From the data released by the MEF indicates that: “a higher nominal growth (composed of inflation and real growth) would have allowed putting debt dynamics on a declining path. With the expected growth and the planned sale of state property already being implemented, in 2016 the debt / GDP ratio will start to decline. ”

The European Commission’s analysis on the sustainability of the economies of the countries participating in the euro recognizes Italy a risk, both in the short and in the medium, which in the long run, always below the average of the 18 countries of the euro and of the 27 members of the European Union. For sustainability risk means the gap between the structural budgetary position and a sustainable fiscal position. According to the Commission’s analysis of the Italian public debt is among the most sustainable in the long term in Europe. The index S2 (long term), in fact, amounts to -2.1 compared to an EU average of three and a euro area average of 2.3. A negative index S2, as in Italian, indicates the sustainability of public finances in a given scenario without further adjustments. Even the sustainability indicators of short and medium term damage Italy among the most sustainable.

Together with Italy, with a low risk of long-term sustainability are Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Denmark, Germany and France. Other countries, however, as the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia have a high risk in the long run. In the middle are Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has revealed that Italy is in bottom of the ranking in Europe for public aid to banks, with only 4 billion euro compared to 240 in Germany in 2007-2013. Often, in fact, we think that Italy has received aid from the European Union during the years of economic crisis. “But Italy is the third largest contributor to aid paid to euro area countries in difficulty and the European financial instruments created during the economic crisis (the so-called” bailout funds “EFSF and ESM), used to provide financial assistance to Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. ”

Data from the Bank of Italy show that our country has contributed 2012-2014 with a share of 18.5%, for a value of € 60 billion, which contributed to the increase of the Italian public debt. “The Eurostat figures show that in the period of economic crisis (2007-2013) the national banking and financial systems of 17 countries in the euro have received aid from national governments with very different amounts. Italian banks have received support from the government for about 4 billion euro, compared to 250 billion euro received by those in Germany and 165 billion from the British. The total amount of aid in the European Union, calculated by Eurostat, amounted to 688.2 billion. Of these, 517 900 billion have been granted in the countries of the euro area. The Italian intervention therefore corresponds to a little less than 1% of state aid granted to banks in the euro area. And 75% of this support has been returned by the recipients to the public purse. ”

“Italy has shown, finally returns the document of the MEF, to excel in many fields, from the famous” three A’s “(food, clothing, furniture) to the mechanical production but also in civil engineering and scientific research. He recorded moments of impetuous economic development, during which the wealth was widely redistributed, with the result of improving the quality of life of millions of citizens. But he also wasted many opportunities to improve their competitiveness and to modernize public administration. The most obvious manifestation of these missed opportunities is the high level of public debt. The national community has responded to this massive burden with heavy sacrifices, of which there is evidence in the long series of public budgets closed primary surplus. The Italian government has pledged to modernize and renew the country to reward these joint efforts through a challenging program of reforms which quickly and with determination. To dismount the facts ancient and widespread prejudices of a nation that wants to talk about itself with deserved pride”.